In order to check incessant and devastating state of building collapse in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, the Lagos State Government and stakeholders in the Abule-Ado last week came out with solutions they think may ameliorate the incident and also be a way of nipping such things in the bud.
Lagos State and the affected community of Abule-Ado explosion though mourn the dead and count their losses, it is necessary to carry out a self-appraisal of all regulatory institutions responsible for the environment, urban planning and infrastructure development in Lagos State; with consideration to carry the following recommendations.
These inter-related institutions with cross-function must take a state-wide audit of environmental abuse and NNPC gas/oil pipeline RoW encroachment to determine the misconduct and culpability of professionals working at the above-named institutions. The government should not be hoodwinked into believing the usual story that the majority of the buildings have no development permit. Such a categoric statement might turn out to be untrue. If the affected building owners have building plan approval, the probing government must find out which institution(s) gave such approval and why.
The Government has the statutory responsibility to protect all fragile environments such as parks, wetlands, flood plains, and all gas/oil pipeline corridors from indiscriminate encroachment. How can this be done? All designated areas must be signposted for public information, preserved and strictly monitored against any form of encroachment temporary or permanent. The minimum horizontal distance between NNPC Gas and Oil pipelines and a building as stipulated by government regulation shall not be less than 15 metres from the predetermined edge of the pipeline alignment. For ease of identification, the entire corridor could be transformed and designated a greenbelt and shielded from development. Any transgressor on the RoW must be prosecuted and sanctioned for breaking the law.
The government must be less meddlesome in development matters and should respect professional advice. The recommendation should equally apply to both the legislative arm of government and politically-connected individuals who erroneously believe they can act above the law.
For example, the proposed Magodo flood plain development being backed by the Lagos State House of Assembly in violation of the state’s environmental and physical planning regulations is abhorrent, condemnable and unacceptable. The lawmakers cannot probate and reprobate at the same time to circumvent state law.